Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, December 18, 2006
George Heartwell, the mayor of Grand Rapids, is the namesake for Heartwell Mortgage, a local mortgage lender, which is essentially what used to be a savings & loan. George Heartwell, Heartwell Mortgage; George Bailey, Bailey Savings & Loan. So there was my Christmas theme; I just needed to come up with the comic.
Mayor Heartwell is kind of an activist, progressive sort. Now you can take that as a positive or negative, but you could easily say that it’s very George Bailey-ish: You know, he tends to look out for the little guy.
When Michigan’s ballot Proposal 2 passed in November (the ban on taking race or gender into consideration for public jobs or admittance into public colleges), Mayor Heartwell said he was going to fight it. He then got all sorts of nasty-grams telling him that he did not understand that we live in a democracy, that the majority rule, the majority has spoken, and that was the end of the story for ever and ever.
That’s all wrong, of course. We live in a constitutional republic, not a democracy. Look it up. And the system is both awesome and annoying in that you can challenge what you think is wrong even if a majority had decided it. Case in point, Proposal 2 overturned a majority decision of the United State Supreme Court to allow the race and gender consideration.
I think the real issue with what Mayor Heartwell did was to propose using Grand Rapids city money to fight the decision. For a typically cash-strapped city, spending taxpayer money on lawyers just doesn’t seem like a great idea.
No clever wrap-up. Just this final thought: If I were rich like Mr. Potter, I would get a toady to push me around in a wheelchair. Not all the time. Just once in a while. Because, honestly, who doesn’t want their very own toady?